A Riverside County lawmaker’s bill seeking to require that teachers receive biennial training in CPR for the safety of students was approved Wednesday by the state Assembly.
“We must ensure California teachers are adequately prepared to respond to any emergency,” Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, said. “With my bill now headed to the Senate, I know there is still work ahead to get this signed by the governor. AB 1214 provides one extra measure of safety for our children.”
AB 1214 is titled “Alex’s Law” for 13-year-old Alex Pierce of Murrieta, who died in 2016.
The youth’s family supported Melendez’s proposal, and their attorney testified before the Assembly Committee on Education last month to share Alex’s story.
“Shouldn’t school district staff and personnel be equipped with all of the tools necessary to ensure the safety of a child, and even save a child’s life in a medical emergency?” said Sabrina Pierce, the boy’s mother, in response to the progress of AB 1214 in the Legislature. “How and when to perform CPR is a basic life-saving skill that should be required of all adults responsible for the safety of a child while that child is in his or her care.”
Under the measure, school districts throughout the state would be required to offer educators CPR certification training as part of a professional growth program administered by the American Red Cross every two years. Additionally, the bill would make it mandatory for schools engaging in interscholastic athletic events to have CPR-certified staff on hand at all times.
Melendez, whose two oldest sons were both involved in competitive water sports while in high school, said her bill directly addresses the need for teachers to have “the ability to protect the school children entrusted to their care.”
“It’s clear that school events require more supervision and personnel trained in CPR,” the lawmaker said.
Last August, Alex’s parents accepted an $11 million settlement with the Murrieta Valley Unified School District, ending civil litigation stemming from their son’s death. He was taken off life support on July 7, 2016.
The settlement required the school district to modify its safety protocols along the lines of what Melendez’s proposal would mandate.
Alex was taking part in a party at Vista Murrieta High School, sponsored by McElhinney Middle School, when he slipped beneath the water unnoticed while swimming in the deep end of the competition pool. According to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, the boy remained submerged almost two minutes before several of his seventh-grade classmates spotted him, dove under and retrieved him, bringing him unconscious to the surface.
The teenage lifeguards hired for the event failed to perform CPR on Alex, and a varsity dive coach also did not try to revive the boy, according to the attorneys.
A Murrieta police investigation later determined that the pool party had been inadequately staffed, and those lifeguards observing the activity lacked experience in high-stress situations, with none ever having performed an actual rescue.